Melbourne's cool winter months are far from ideal to while away hours at the beach, it is too windy for the parks and often too wet to go for a bike ride. The weather, unfortunately, makes the July school holidays one of the hardest few weeks to keep the kids busy when on a budget.
There are some amazing school holiday programs and activities in and around Melbourne, but most do come with a higher end budget, particularly when paying for more than one child to be entertained. Having said that, there are pockets of free and low cost events and activities happening all over Melbourne these winter school holidays; you just have to know where to go.
Taking the research out of your day, we have a round up of some purse-friendly activities that you can take your children to over the July 2015 break:
ArtPlay, Australia's only arts centre for children, offers a number of activities for kids over the course of the year, and the centre's school holiday program usually boasts some interesting workshops and events, too.
In July 2015, there will be an interactive Village and Magic Drum event, where your children will be transported to a Senegal village, with tribal tales and musical celebration. Join Lamine and his friends and become part of the performance by learning drum rhythms, dance and chants with the help of some African animal friends. Your children can also make their own costume to represent their 'tribe'.
Village and Magic Drum
The workshop will take place on Sunday 5 July to be part of a performance: rehearsal 2pm to 2.45pm; show 3pm to 3.30pm.
Alternatively, see the show on Saturday 4 July, 2pm to 4pm or Sunday 5 July, 10.30am to 12.30pm.
Cost: FREE to see the Culture Keepers performance. No bookings required. Where: Birrarung Marr, Melbourne
Age suitability: 5 - 8 years.
A theatrical puppet show will also take place at ArtPlay this winter, most suited to school aged children. Argus the puppet show, presented by the Dead Puppets Society, explores the life of a little creature, trying to fit into a world where he does not fit in. The main character, made only of hands, explores the world to find himself, only to discover what a treat it is to be alive and what it means to have a home.
Argus puppet show
When: Wed 8 July, 11am to 12noon, 1.30pm to 2.30pm, 6.30pm to 7.30pm. Thurs 9 July, 10.30am to 11.30am; 1pm to 2pm; 3pm to 4pm
Cost: $12 per child. Book HERE.
Where: Birrarung Marr, Melbourne
Age suitability: 5 - 12 years.
National Gallery of Victoria (NGV)
You will be hard pushed not to find something of interest for children at Melbourne's iconic art museum; the oldest public art museum in Australia. If the weather goes hold out, you can always venture into the sculpture gardens for a picnic, otherwise let the children stretch their legs and get comfy on the colourful ottomans in The Great Hall, famous for its incredible stained glass ceiling.
An exhibition that should not be missed is the NGV's Open House: Tromarama for Kids, introducing a house of fun where children can create their own stop motion films with a variety of plastic toys, chat to garden gnomes, and bust a move on the light-up dance floor in the topsy-turvy dining room.
When: Now until 18 October, every day except Tuesdays
Times: 10am – 5pm
Where: NGV International, 180 St Kilda Road Melbourne
Age suitability: 3 and up
To coincide with the NGV's current Exquisite Threads exhibition, there will also be a series of DIY vintage fashion accessory workshops put together by Thread Den, specifically aimed at older children aged 13-17. Your teens will be able to make and decorate a vintage inspired coin purse, embroider a peter pan collar or learn creative sewing skills to use at home. Further details here.
When: Wed 1, Thu 2 & Fri 3 July
Where: NGV International, 180 St Kilda Road, Melbourne
Cost: $15 Students / $12 Members per workshop
Book: Phone 03 8662 1555, quote booking code P1552
The Tyrannosaurs - Meet the Family exhibition has stomped into Scienceworks, and is a sure must-see for a number of reasons. The exhibition focuses on one of the scariest but also, arguably, the most loved prehistoric creature. Learn more of the terrifying tyrannosaurs family, that extends much further than the T-Rex.
In addition to the colossal collection of dinosaur bones on display, the exhibition is filled with multimedia technology to try out, such as a touch screen drag-and-drop exercise to move tyrannosaurs to their appropriate place in their family tree, a fun walk-though corridor filled with screens projecting images of dinosaurs walking through the streets of Spotswood, and a giant screen showing a make-believe CCTV moment when a T-Rex breaks through a security door and makes his way into the museum. More here.
Not quite in the heart of the city, but not far out, the Roola Boola Children's Arts Festival 2015 begins at the start of the winter school holidays; 30 June.
Over two weeks, there are workshops, performances and activities galore, held at Chapel Off Chapel in Prahran. Book your kids onto a circus skills workshop with the Trash Test Dummies, and see them perform live on stage. Enjoy the Melbourne City Ballet's performance of The Magic Toyshop, send your kids off tapping with Melbourne Tap Dance, and lots more.
When: 30 June - 10 July
Where: 12 Little Chapel Street, Prahran
Cost: $15 (workshops free for parents)
Age suitability: 4 - 10 years
A visit to ACMI's Screen Worlds is always worth considering during the school holidays. Being one of ACMI's permanent exhibitions, Screen Worlds offers free interactive enjoyment throughout the year, with 220 screen-based displays, 30 hours of moving image content and hundreds of original objects and memorabilia to see. You and your children can spend hours playing vintage video games, watch historic TV moments and get antiquated with animation and illusion. More here.
Where: Federation Square, Flinders St, Melbourne
When: 10am to 5pm
Age suitability: any
Once you are done with your city activities, why not rug up and head down to one of the many laneways in Melbourne's cultural heart, and explore the city's street art scene. The cobbled streets of Hosier and Rutledge Lane are the most common public art spaces in the CBD, and dare I say the easiest to find.